Book review: The Testament of Mary, By Colm Tóibín
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014.
Friday 09 August 2013
Tóibín's fictive mothers have always been complex characters. Now comes Mary, the mother of Christ, in this novella based on the stage play, Testament.
Taut poetic language cuts to the heart of her emotional devastation as she gives her account of his life, her adult estrangement from him and finally his death ("I gasped when I saw the cross... He was the boy I had given birth to...").
She is less the archetypal Christian Mother, more an angry woman forever in mourning and her enduring sadness is deeply moving.
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